“I love seeing customers get excited about discovering something new.” —Jessie Williams, owner, Edge of Urge
Sandwiched between Two Roosters ice cream and Wine Authorities, Edge of Urge is filling Person Street Plaza with handmade clothes, trendy jewelry, and kitschy gifts. Jessie Williams founded the quirky boutique in Wilmington, N.C., in 2002, and expanded to Raleigh’s Oakwood neighborhood five years ago. “I wanted to come to Raleigh to spread my wings. Raleigh seemed like a place that had an open mind.”
Williams was raised in Greensboro, and lived in Chicago while attending the Art Institute. She studied performing arts and sound engineering, but she says the idea for her own store was sparked as she hand knitted gifts for her friends, and they suggested she sell the products instead of giving them away. “When I moved back here from Chicago, there wasn’t a handmade goods store that didn’t feel crafty. We started as a 400-square-foot space with my friends’ products that they trusted me with.” Since opening, the space has expanded to two locations, and houses apparel, gifts, art, and home decor. While much of the merchandise overlaps between locations, Williams says the Raleigh shop is the ‘older sister’ to Wilmington’s space. Both shops push boundaries with provocative sayings stamped onto bags and notebooks, quirky cards, celebrity prayer candles, and inspirational textiles and paper. Thirty percent of the goods are from local makers, with even more from throughout North Carolina. Williams says she buys for the store with customers in mind, and in turn comes up with a tailored assortment full of playful products. Edge of Urge has also recently expanded its men’s line, with the help of her husband Derek Keller and his brand, 440 Supply.
Williams’ latest projects include being a mom to her new daughter, June. She’s also partnered with DECO Raleigh to create a new concept store at RDU airport. Root & Branch is a new type of airport gift shop. It’s filled with local goods from across the state, allowing local makers to reach an international audience. “The demographic is so wide there. It’s been an interesting experience,” says Williams. “You won’t walk in and think you’re in DECO or Edge of Urge, it’s a unique type of space.” The Edge of Urge team is also giving back. They’ve created a North Carolina t-shirt with sales benefiting their neighbors in Wilmington who were affected by Hurricane Florence. To date, they’ve raised almost $10,000 for the cause.
As for what’s next, Williams hopes to continue the momentum. In keeping with community building, the store is open late for Third Thursdays, and you can celebrate Edge of Urge’s fourth anniversary November 4 with Wine Authorities and Two Roosters from 3-6 p.m. Person Street Plaza’s annual Holiday Shop Hop is returning December 7 from 6-9 p.m., and includes special offers, cocktails, free gift wrap, and a holiday toy drive. —Catherine Currin